Weekend Edition – Time to Write Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

On Making Time to Write in a Real Life

paris clockI’d been having trouble with my computer. The machine, a beautiful MacBook Pro, is only a few years old; but something seemed to have snapped in its shiny, silver brain. No matter what task I set it – opening a program, popping a new tab on my browser, saving a document, loading a web page, etc. – it froze. Whether its paralysis was born of fear or confusion or obstinance, I’ll never know. All I know is that each move I made resulted in the same outcome: the spinning, rainbow pinwheel of death.

At first, I was frustrated. Then, I became furious. I had so much to do and no time to waste. Precious minutes were sucked down that candy-colored vortex as I sat, blood pressure rising, tapping finger tips trying to pierce my wooden desktop.

Until I realized that those minutes were still mine.

True, I wasn’t able to use them as I’d planned, but they were still mine. I did not have to spend them staring in dumb rage at an immobilized computer screen. I moved a small pile of random reading material from its perch on the bookcase behind the couch and placed it next to my ailing computer. After that, each time that psychedelic harbinger of  technological doom appeared on my screen, I simply smiled and reached for something to read.

•••)o(•••

Time is our most finite and precious resource. We cannot create more of it, or slow it down. We cannot bend it to our will. We can only hope to use it wisely.

People often ask me how I find the time to fit consistent reading and writing into my life. My answer is that I do not find the time, I make it. Sometimes, I steal it.

The hard truth is that we rarely, if ever, stumble upon spare time. Most of our time is spoken for by our daily responsibilities and obligations – work, parenting, caring for family members, keeping house, shuttling kids hither and yon, shopping, cooking, taking out the trash. The rigors of our daily lives devour time in huge, hurriedly consumed bites. We get out of bed in the morning, and it seems moments later we are crawling back under the covers, barely aware of what transpired in the intervening hours.

Sometimes, it’s challenge enough to get from Point A to Point B without misplacing any kids, losing any clients, or forgetting (for the fiftieth time) where you put the car keys. How then, do you make the time for seemingly nonessential activities like reading and writing?

Well, first of all, you stop thinking of them as nonessential. From there, you can start to explore some of the tricks I’ve developed to make sure that each day of my life includes some reading and some writing.

•••)o(•••

Trick #1: Forget Optional

The first step is simple: Acknowledge and accept that your writing matters. You can’t prioritize something if you’re constantly pushing it to the bottom of your To Do list because it’s “only a nice-to-have” and not a necessity. Too often (and, I’m speaking especially to the women now) we marginalize the things we want out of shame or guilt or some misplaced sense of duty. Stop that. Pursuing your creative journey is not a “bonus” that you get to enjoy if, and only if, you get everything else done first. “Everything Else” will never be done. Ever. There’s always more of everything to add to your list. That’s the way life is. If you’re going to make time to read and write, you need to make it now, not “someday.”

 

Trick #2: Make Intentional Choices

Though we may ache for time to read and write, we routinely sacrifice that time voluntarily to other people’s small gods. We let ourselves be talked into participating on yet another committee, taking on another project, or attending another social event. We talk ourselves into saying “yes” by telling ourselves that it’s “only” one meeting a month or three hours on a Saturday or four weeks of overtime. Sometimes, the “yes” springs from guilt. Sometimes it comes from fear of missing out (aka – FOMO). We worry that we’ll never be invited again or get work again or whatever. Sometimes it comes from fear of failing, because if we’re too busy doing Everything Else, we’ll never have to try writing and we’ll never have to fail.

Sometimes, we don’t even need someone else to ask us to sacrifice our time. Sometimes, we sabotage ourselves by voluntarily giving up time for less important (though still enjoyable) pastimes. Watching television is a common one. But, even “good” personal choices (working out, for instance) can mean giving up writing time.

It all comes down to making intentional choices – learning to weigh out your options in the moment, and make your decision from a Big Picture perspective. The next time you’re tempted to say “yes” to someone else’s request or make a personal choice that will infringe on your writing time, picture your writing as a small, helpless creature being led to the sacrificial altar. Look at the poor creature’s big, frightened eyes. Know that you are the one who is going to have to do the deed. How are you feeling about your choice now?

Or, for those too squeamish for an actual sacrifice, imagine that you are the Old Woman in the Shoe and each of your “children” represents a part of your life – Work, Relationship, PTA, Clean House, Goal Weight, etc. You “feed” your children by giving them time. Each time you say “yes,” each time you choose one thing over another, you are feeding one of your children, but the others go hungry. (Remember, time is a finite resource; there just isn’t enough to go around. You’re the Old Woman in the Shoe, not Strega Nona with her magic stew pot.)

Who are you going to feed today?

 

Trick #3: Don’t Overlook Small Opportunities

There’s a common misconception that more is better, but less can sometimes serve just as well.

As writers, we often pine after long stretches of time free from other duties and obligations. We crave whole mornings and afternoons in which to immerse ourselves in the world of our stories. But, sadly, life doesn’t often offer up such opportunities. More often than not, we have to make do with small “pockets” of time, pieced together like a patchwork quilt made of scraps snipped out of other pieces of the day.

This is okay.

A minute stolen is still a minute, even if it has to stand on its own.

Like my story about using my computer’s temper tantrum time to read a few lines, you likely have countless chances throughout your day to take baby steps towards a more consistent writing and reading practice. What can you do in a minute? In three minutes? In ten?

I usually try to read one book every week or week-and-a-half. I am able to do this not by curling up for hours at a time with my book and a mug of tea (though, that sounds lovely). I am able to keep up with my reading by using the caches of minutes and moments that I’ve hidden throughout my day. I read while I eat my breakfast and lunch, while I’m waiting in the pick-up line at my daughter’s school,  while I watch my daughter at her riding lesson, while I’m stirring the pasta for dinner. I always carry reading material, either physical books or digital ones stored in my iPhone’s Kindle app.

I also always carry something to record my ideas. I may not be able to fit a long writing session into each day, but I can capture ideas in a notebook or an app. It may be challenging to work on a long-form piece like a novel a minute at a time, but you can do a lot of writing in fifteen minutes, or even three! Sketch out a character, map out an essay, craft a first draft of a piece of flash fiction, pen a poem. Bigger isn’t always better.

 

Trick #4: Find Your Joy

The power of enthusiasm can take you far. Where there is a will, there is a way. And there is always a will if we are passionate about something. We fight for the things we love. We choose the things we care about most. If you can rediscover and nurture your love of writing and your joy in the process, you will have tapped into an almost magical source of energy and drive.

Let yourself be swept up in the fire of your creative urges. Embrace your curiosity and your hunger to learn and explore and play. Remind yourself of the excitement that comes from trying new things. Make it FUN.

 

Trick #5: Build a Habit

Habits. Hard to break and hard to make.

Find one thing – reading while you eat breakfast, writing on your lunch break, penning a few lines before bed – and stick with it for thirty days. Establish a pattern. Train yourself to do this thing almost by rote … by habit.

I write morning pages – three handwritten pages of whatever tumbles out of my head. I write these weekend editions. Come hell or high water, I make the time, and I get them done. I write a bi-weekly column. It’s a small deadline, but one I refuse to miss. I read blog posts (to learn, explore, and keep up with what’s happening in publishing) each night on my iPhone while I wait for my daughter to drift off to sleep.

Each of these habits is a small thing, but together they create a broader writing life. I didn’t begin doing them all at once. I started one and then added another and another. It’s an organic process, but you have to start somewhere. Pick one thing. Go. Do it.

 

Trick #6: Be Flexible and Adaptable

Circumstances won’t always be perfect. Sometimes, even your plans to steal a few minutes will go awry. Sometimes, your time will be compromised by noisy neighbors or a bad cold. If you want to do this thing, you have to work with the circumstances at hand.

My daughter listens to audio books as she’s falling asleep. We read stories, and then turn on Audible so she can listen to an old favorite while she drifts off. She usually prefers that I stay with her for a little while, so I stay there in the dark and I catch up on reading blog posts. In order to do this, I had to learn to read one thing, while another thing was playing in my ear. It took me a while, but now I can focus completely on the words I’m reading, and I don’t even hear the story that’s playing on my daughter’s iPod.

I can also write just about anywhere. Noise and discomfort are only small annoyances, not roadblocks. I often work in a local coffee shop amidst the hustle and bustle of conversations, music, and other “ambiance.” People ask me how the heck I can get anything done in all that racket. Easy – I have adapted.

•••)o(•••

Annie Dillard said that, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” It makes perfect sense, and yet it’s so easy to lose sight of that simple truth. I would take the idea one step further and say that how we spend our moments is how we spend our days. We do not need to measure activity in days or even hours. If we can only carve out minutes to practice the thing we love – to read and to write and to live like writers – that can be enough. It can give us a toehold on the writing life we crave. So, make that time – one minute at a time – and use it to create the life you want. After all, it’s your time, no one else’s.

 

 

What I’m {Learning About} Writing:

"Catsquatch" by Shyama Golden

“Catsquatch” by Shyama Golden

This is a lesson I have to learn over and over (and over) again.

New projects are scary. They are big and unknown and complicated. They are full of stuff I don’t understand. They make me feel stupid.

Earlier this week, I almost passed on a new client project because it seemed too darn scary. I looked at the material in front of me, and I thought, “There’s no way.”

I was disappointed because it was a good project with a client I enjoy very much. But, I felt overwhelmed and out of my element. Because I didn’t want to let them down, I almost walked away.

And then I took a step back. I started to pull the thing apart. Instead of looking at it as a whole, I broke it down into smaller pieces. Suddenly, I began to see more clearly what it was. Suddenly, it wasn’t a huge and frightening beast, it was just a collection of small, mostly tame beasts.

Imagine that.

 

 

What I’m Reading:

book dog star never glowsI’m just about finished with the excellent craft book, The Field Guide to Flash Fiction, but I’ve also spent some of my precious reading time this week in the world of Tara Masih’s short (and short short) stories.

I came across Masih’s stories because she is the editor of the field guide, and when I posted about that book a few weeks ago, she was kind enough to reach out with a thank you. Because of our conversation, I ended up purchasing her short story anthology, Where the Dog Star Never Glows, and I’m so glad I did.

There is such a bounty of variety in this collection – of places and characters, voice and subject matter, style and length. Though they take us around the globe and invite us to inhabit, for a moment, the lives of a wildly diverse group of narrators, these stories each contain a pulsing thread that brings a sense of cohesion and balance.

Each story seems to live in a place in between. Characters hang, spectacularly or quietly, in the gap between what was and what might be. There is, to use a cliche, a quiet desperation that creates tension, but also gives a sense of familiarity. They are adapting and evolving. They are growing and learning. And we are growing and learning along with them.

I love the touches of the natural world that weave themselves in and through Masih’s stories. She subtly touches each of the five senses, bringing us fully into the moments her stories inhabit, so that we feel more of what the characters feel. And, her narratives are sprinkled with bits of poetry, images that persist in the mind long after the book has been closed.

I’m looking forward to experiencing the rest of the stories in Masih’s collection, and I’m looking forward to the next collection, which I believe is in the works.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

 

Finally, a quote for the week:

Art print by Thyme is Honey on Society6

Art print by Thyme is Honey on Society6

Here’s to carving out little nooks and crannies of time for your reading and your writing, making moments in your days and days in your life to do the things you love most. 
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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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78 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Time to Write Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

  1. Your article came at such an opportune time for me as I am once again attempting to figure out how to carve out the time I need to write, every day. Thank you for reminding me that I don’t need huge chunks of uninterrupted moments…that I can write in smaller time modules the way I managed to do when my children were growing up. I say that I always seemed to find the time back then, even though I was, like most moms, extremely busy and involved with my family, whereas now that I actually have more free time on my hands I can’t seem to pin down the right routine for me. Truth be told, I have been squandering precious moments and hours and sometimes even days–filling them with unimportant, useless, trivial activites that do not move me forward either as a writer or as a person on a journey. Last week I began walking again, not too far yet, but wearing a pedometer so that I can see any progress I make, and within this first week I actually am making that progress. Walking for an hour a day means I’m giving up other activities in order to make time for my health because I’ve decided it is important to me. Now I’m going to use the same approach with my writing, which is also important to me but which I’ve been neglecting of late. Thank you again for this timely post! And sorry if my comment is long, but hey–commenting in a thoughtful way is writing, too, right?

    • Commenting is definitely writing! 😉

      Congrats on getting back to walking. I’m on that same road myself, having taken much of the winter off. It’s tough to get back into the habit, but it feels so good when you start to find your groove.

      It’s the same with reading and writing. We may feel a little rusty at first, but once we hit our stride, it gives us a burst of energy to do more.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Sylvia. Glad to have you here.

    • Thanks.
      You can’t really get more down to earth than the Old Woman and Strega Nona.
      😉

  2. A wonderful post. I agree, you have to make it a priority, not a hobby, or you’ll never get any writing done. I got tired of having to justify my writing time. People actually called me selfish for wanting three nights a week guaranteed writing time. No one questions the person who spends every night in front of the tv, but they judge the writers.

    • It does sometimes feel like we are judged as selfish for wanting time to write. Worse, we often judge ourselves. I often feel guilty about taking time for myself, feeling like I should be spending it with my daughter or beau or doing something for someone else or earning money or … and the list goes on.

      But, as the cliche goes, we only have this one life. We are the only ones who can make it what we want it to be. No one else will make the time for us to write. Hopefully, in time, others will come to accept and even support your journey.

      Wishing that for you.

      • It sounds mechanical, but my sister and I actually have a joint calendar that dictates what nights we write, edit, go to the gym, spend with our mother, etc. My ex (ex for a reason) fiancé hated that I penciled people into my life, but I found that it made me MORE likely to see people and not less likely to. It sounds cold and calculated, but the goal behind it was to fit in my pleasures, my to-dos, and time with people I love. IT’s been working great.

      • I think that’s actually great, that you pencilled people in. Too often, we have all the best intentions, but never quite follow through. At least by blocking out some time, you gave yourself a better shot at actually making the plans. It takes me and various friends three, four, or even five times to coordinate a simple coffee date sometimes. It takes an effort to arrange everything, but it’s always worth it. 🙂

  3. This is awesome. Like other commenters, I often see writing time as optional or selfish, and I really shouldn’t, since people sometimes pay me to do it. I should place it higher on my priorities so that I start making more time and being more productive. Thanks for this.

    • Hi, Jasmine.
      I’m working on bumping my writing up the priority list as well.
      More to the point, I’m working on bumping up my non-commercial writing up the priority list.

      Like you, people do pay me to write, BUT the writing I’m paid for is not “my” writing. It’s writing for hire … a very different beast.

      My challenge is to give “my” writing (my as yet unfinished, unpublished, and unprofitable writing) as much due as the work that keeps a roof over my head.

      Baby steps. 😉

      Thanks & good luck in your battle!

  4. Inspiring post! I learned quite a bit on time management. Lots I never thought of. I have so much todo and have had a hard time fitting it all in. Thank you!

  5. Hello Jamie. I think this is possibly one of my favourite of your weekend posts. It seems to echo some themes that have been with me this week. A reader commented on my blog the other day that I must be a time management genius to be able to read and write so much as well as run a house and raise a family :). I was surprised at first – I had never thought of myself in those terms before, but when I thought about it, I make the time. I get up very early to write. I read, as you do, when my daughter goes to sleep, and instead of watching TV. I am very fussy about what I say yes to. I am good at the day to day, moment to moment part of being a writer. What I am less good at is proritising my own needs. I will carve time out of my day to read and write, but to dedicate a weekend to a writer’s festival, say, or a writers retreat or anything that takes me away from the home – or even embarking on a university degree – is very difficult for me. Questions arise in my mind like do I deserve this? Have I done enough, have I worked hard enough, am I worthy? I’ve missed out on opportunities because of this kind of dialogue. I am worthy though, and I don’t have to prove it!

    • I love that this is possibly your favorite, Sara. 🙂

      There is a kind of natural selection that’s driven by what we love, right? I mean – you love to read and write, so you naturally find ways to shoehorn it into your day, even when your day is chock-a-block crazy and overbooked. We steal a few minutes here and a few minutes there. We make things happen in the nooks and crannies.

      But then, as you point out, we are challenged to carve out those larger stretches of time – a conference or workshop or class. It’s tough. The other bits and pieces are acquired almost under the radar. We don’t have to make big sacrifices in other areas of our life to accommodate them. But, something substantial – a day, a weekend, a (gasp!) week – that’s more noticeable and it requires that we give something else up.

      I guess, each “level” pushes us to find ourselves that much more “worthy,” as you put it. While we may have learned to feel we deserve a few moments of stolen reading time at the end of the day, or a bit of writing time before the rest of the house is up, we need to push ourselves to believe we are deserving of that weekend workshop or online class or whatever it is.

      Interesting layer you’ve added here.
      Thanks for that!

      • You have completely understood what I was trying to say, and in fact, you have helped me to understand my own struggles better. Brilliant you are Jamie!

      • And you’ve helped me understand some of my personal dynamics around feeling “worthy,” so thank YOU for that! 🙂

  6. Wonderful article! I have learned all too recently how beneficial small amounts of writing time throughout the day can be (any bit of time helps and counts!).

  7. Thanks jamie. It’s extremely reassuring to know that other people are in the same boat as me. I am trying to fit my writing time into a very busy daily routine but it is very difficult. I see my lunch breaks as a good opportunity to pick up my pen. As I continue to progress with my novel, my close family are becoming more understanding of the time I need to dedicate to it. No matter what, us writers find the time. It’s what we do. Thanks again! Mark

    • Hi, Mark.
      I think another great tool for good time management (which I neglected to mention above) is to be aware of which kinds of tasks you can get done a) at what time of day, and b) in what amount of time.

      So, for instance, if you anticipate a short window later in the afternoon when you’re too tired to write, you may want to use that time for research or outlining. If you can snag an AM window that’s a little longer, however, you may want to focus on first draft work.

      It’s not just about MAKING the time, but also about using it most effectively.
      Hmmm … that might be another post. 😉

      TKS!

      PS- Hope you’re still loving the process and the journey!

      • Thanks Jamie! That’s something I had never thought of and I agree it would come in extremely handy in my world. If time is hard to come by then every second matters for sure. I’m still enjoying every second of it. Long may it continue! 🙂 speak soon. Mark

      • So glad you’re still enjoying every second. That’s what it’s all about. 🙂

  8. I am continuing to learn more every day that I have to make writing a priority, or I cannot do it. There are a million other things that must be done.
    Last weekend, I met a friend across the country and crashed her hotel room while she was at a conference. I used the time she was busy to write. I made a lot of progress on my latest project, and i am ecstatic. I have a new mission- every two months I am going to carve out a weekend just for writing. The rest of the time, I am going to continue to set my alarm at least an hour early, and I am going to work on my writing as diligently as I work on every thing else in my life.
    Great Post. I needed the reminder and reinforcement.

    • What a fabulously creative way to get some alone time! Love it. 🙂

      I also love your “one weekend every two months” goal. That sounds do-able and also heavenly.

      Good luck & thanks for being here and sharing.

  9. I enjoyed reading this. I try to snatch a bit of time whenever I can. I write my morning notes on the bus on my way to work. Sometimes, I write when I’m meant to be grading my students essays. And my house is always a mess because I’d rather have a completed story than a smaller pile of washing.

    Great post.

    • Sometimes I wonder if people think I’m nuts – always staring into space and scribbling in notebooks at every chance I get, no matter where I am or what’s going on around me. And then I think, “Who cares?!?”
      🙂

      Love that you find those little pockets of time, and grab them!
      Also right with you re: the house being a mess because you’d rather be writing.

      TKS for coming by!

    • That’s so nice of you to say.
      My best advice: Start now. Write often. Learn as you go.
      🙂

      Good luck!

    • My pleasure, Catherine.
      Thanks for coming by. I look forward to seeing you around the blog again.
      🙂

  10. This is my first time on a blog. Ever. I’ve just finished a degree with two modules of creative writing and I’m now hoping to start writing stories that don’t have to be submitted to a tutor. Your words echoed with me. Finding the time to write in a busy life is important. Discipline is the key I guess. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

    • First time on a blog? Ever?
      Wow. I’m kind of thrilled that you’re here. Welcome to the wonderful (and often wacky) world of the blogosphere. 😉

      Thanks for being here and taking the time to comment. I hope to see you around the “Weekend Edition Cafe” in the future.

  11. As always, a great post, Jamie! I love what you said about making time to do things like writing and reading. It’s so true that you have to prioritize and treat it as essential if you want it to happen.

    I’ve also been focusing some of my writing time on the craft of writing short fiction lately, and I’ve been interested to see your recommendations and what you’ve been learning. Thanks for sharing about Tara Masih! I’m going to have to to check out some of her work!

    • Hello, Kaitlin!
      Prioritization. Yes. (Easier said than done, but always worth working on!) 😉

      I hope you do check out Tara’s work – both the Field Guide to Flash Fiction and her short stories. I’m starting my flash fiction class this week & excited (if maybe a little nervous) to start working on some of my own pieces. Feeling a little rusty!

      “See” you soon!

  12. Reblogged this on tsholofelo wechoemang and commented:
    I really need to read this. Just the nudge I needed to keep on going. Carving out time to read and write more. I love my craft and it’s posts like this that remind me that a) I am not alone on this journey and b) even when I feel overwhelmed, I can still do it.

    Thank you.

  13. I really need to read this. Just the nudge I needed to keep on going. Carving out time to read and write more. I love my craft and it’s posts like this that remind me that a) I am not alone on this journey and b) even when I feel overwhelmed, I can still do it.

    Thank you.

  14. Dearest Jamie

    Aaaah – I am shrinking in shame after reading your post! LOL Oh – how I waste time – either due to lack of focus, lack of energy, lack of motivation or lack of interest 😦

    Thank you for these immensely useful pointers, sweetie. I decided – two months ago – that I was going to read one book in 10 days. I even started a website – and then let it decay! Well, you have inspired me to get back on track!

    LOVE you so much #HUGS
    Kitto

    • No shame, here, Miss Kitto. No guilt. When you are ready, when something excites and inspires you enough, you will see it through in the best way. I have no doubt. Sometimes lack of focus or energy is just that you are bored with whatever you’re doing, or it’s not speaking to you on some level.

      Why do you want to read a book in 10 days? I’m not asking to be fresh, I’m really curious. Why have you set this goal for yourself? What does it mean to you? Is putting a deadline on reading making you feel less excited about doing it … like it’s homework? Again – not judging, just curious. 🙂

      Always so nice to see you. Thanks for coming by & good luck with your site … however (and whenever) it evolves!

      • Aww sweetie – you can ask me anything! #HUGS

        As for my lack of focus, my eating disorder overpowers me every day. This – coupled with some soul-zapping mental negativity towards myself and others – is enough to kill my productivity by a third! 😦

        The mission of my 1 book in 10 days project is to encourage reading books of any kind. I started this to increase the pace at which I finish a book in order to read at least 24 books a year 😀

        Thank you for your support, Jamie #HUGS You help a LOT – trust me ❤

        OODLES of love and hugs
        Kitto

      • Though I am sorry you have to battle so hard each day, I am glad that reading and writing are part of your process for making life more joyful and stable.

        I don’t know if it would help or not, but have you tried thinking about your reading less as a “To Do” or a goal you’re not (yet) reaching, and more like a special treat or almost like a place you can retreat to where you can recover from the day? Sometimes when I am struggling to build a new habit (yoga or meditation, for instance), I will try to reframe how I think about it from an oh-my-god-I-have-to-fit-this-into-my-day thing to a gift I’m giving myself. It doesn’t work all the time, but sometimes it’s enough to nudge me to the “starting line,” so to speak, and that’s usually half the battle.

        However you approach it, kudos to you for your persistence.
        xo

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  16. Reblogged this on Mindful Marketing and commented:
    Never again will you complain about no time!

    The remarkable Jamie of Live to Write, Write to Live explains how taking advantage of the ‘moments’ in our life can move us along our creative paths.

    I have always thought of time in terms of ‘huge chunks’ – if I don’t have even an hour, why bother writing or reading anything, eh?

    WRONG.

    Jamie makes us realize that you don’t need huge chunks of time to pursue your passion; those seemingly insignificant ‘5 minutes’ can coalesce to life you higher – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and creatively!

    Please follow Jamie!

    Kitto

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  22. Thanks so much Jaime. Time and I don’t have a good track record. I am a notorious time thief, stealing from my sleep to write and coming to realise that you can’t get away with that forever.
    Moreover, after having chemotherapy to treat an auto-immune disease, I lost all sense of the passage of time, both in terms of the day and also the week. This obviously played havoc with my organisation.
    When my kids were smaller, I utilised all those little snippets of time scribbling inspiration on little snippets of paper left beside the kettle, on the bench etc when parenting was very intense.
    I have found using these snippets of time easier when it comes to practicing my violin than writing or reading. I prefer to really immerse myself in what I’m doing to stay focused and keep that thread going. I struggle to get into novels when I am constantly stop starting and can’t get into it.
    Another thing I’ve struggled with in maintaining momentum on a bigger project with the constant range of distractions all out to sabotage your project. I really believe it is important for writers to be out and about and part of community to gain depth and texture to their writing. I am interested in people and what makes people tick and above all, how to reach people who are hurting and to help them feel a little better. I want to be there for my kids and my daughter is academically gifted and also talented with dance, drama and singing so I put a bit into that and our son needs my time too. At the same time, writing is like breathing to me and without it, my spirit will die.
    So far, I juggle this by not watching much TV and my social life is pretty limited, Well, except for my blog.
    I have also tried to clear up the ever-growing piles of paperwork so i can find my desk again. However, this detracted from writing time.
    It really is hard for me to maintain that focus on a big writing project and see it through.
    xx Rowena

    • Oh my goodness, Rowena. Your comment includes so many good points and thoughts I want to respond to that I hardly know where to begin!

      I read a bit about your health struggles on your About page. I am impressed with your dedication and perseverance … and your strong sense of humor. I agree that sleep deprivation is not the answer 😉 and also that it’s much easier to enjoy a novel when you can carve out a decent chunk of time to immerse yourself in the story. (I just spent much of this past week doing exactly that, and it was pure bliss.)

      I also agree that it’s so, so important for writers to “be out and about,” as you put it. I have never believed in the efficacy or superiority of the Ivory Tower school of writing. Many years ago, I worked at a company that designed and produced promotional t-shirts for global brands. I often marveled at how the designers were able to come up with new creations even though they were rarely allowed to leave their cubicles in the art department. For me, creative ideas arrive most frequently and readily when I am out in the world – exploring and experiencing. SO important. (Did I say that already? Bears repeating.)

      And yes, also, to the challenges (and joys!) of dividing our time between our day-to-day lives, raising our children, and our art. As a single mum, I’m 100% responsible for getting my daughter to and from all her activities, and most of the time I’m delighted to be part of those experiences for her. It takes a lot of time (not to mention money!), but watching her learn and seeing her confidence and joy – that makes it all worth while.

      And, between everything else, we DO still find (MAKE) time to write, because it’s such a big part of who we are as creative beings. You just can’t stop a writer. 😉

  23. Thanks for these excellent tips – which I’m reading many months after the post was written, but still timely for me as I’m about to make one of my annual ‘must write more’ New Year resolutions, and it’s helpful to read some practical advice about actually making it happen.

    • So glad you found your way here, Christopher.
      Thanks for the kind words & good luck with your New Year’s resolutions!
      🙂

  24. Pingback: Saturday Edition – What’s Holding You Back from Your Writer’s Life? | Live to Write – Write to Live

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